Why ‘Brady Bunch’ Star Susan Olsen Quit Acting After Playing Cindy
Susan Olsen played the adorable, lisp-talking, youngest daughter Cindy Brady on The Brady Bunch. Despite achieving an intense level of fame and fortune, Olsen eventually decided to leave it all behind and opted for a more regular life. Olsen was cast as Cindy at eight years old and followed in her real-life siblings’ footsteps to pursue an acting career. While kids and grown-ups alike loved The Brady Bunch, children often can’t understand the difference between acting and real life. When Olsen portrayed the often annoying, tattletale Cindy, her real peers shunned her, thinking it was all true.
Olsen recently appeared at The Hollywood Museum to support its tribute to Motion Picture Mothers, a nonprofit formed in 1939 for women whose children became actors. She opened up about the good and bad parts of acting and why she didn’t really continue in Hollywood for long after The Brady Bunch ended.
Olsen shared, “Fame was the one part I didn’t like. I loved the work. I loved my castmates. I really loved the industry. I really liked what I did. I was a kid who wanted a job. [But] fame to me was silly. Just really, really ridiculous. It was like fool’s gold. Shortly after the show premiered, I went to my uncle, a drama teacher in Palo Alto. He taught high school, and he would have these really extravagant productions. And we went up north to one of his productions. I got recognized in the audience and I got mobbed. They had to call the police to get me out. It was this huge crowd of people. I’d seen a grownup who [said], ‘Oh look, her little face is red. She can’t breathe – here, sign one more [autograph].’ It was very, very frightening. I didn’t like it. I was ready to quit the show.”
She explained that eventually, she learned that they mobbed her because they loved her character but it was still quite frightening for a child. Even at a young age, Olsen was very aware of the stereotype of a bratty child star and told her mother that if she ever acted like that, she would take her right out of show business. After The Brady Bunch ended, she did pursue an acting career for a while but found that she was being typecast into her iconic character. At the age of 23, she decided to leave it all behind.
Olsen explained, “I went to the Academy… just thinking I would stick with it because I wasn’t really using my imagination. I really wanted to break the mold. I’d do my best work on auditions while I was playing drug addicts or ax murderers – things like that. And they would say, ‘You’re really good, but we just can’t cast Cindy Brady in this role.’ And it’s like, if I can’t do the meaty stuff that I want to do, why am I doing this?” So, she decided to study and work in graphic design, co-wrote and co-hosted a radio talk show with comedian Allan Harvey. Eventually, she found her purpose in teaching acting to young people, where she can share her experience.
There have been rumors over the years that Olsen starred in adult films and it ended up being slightly true. While she did not remove her clothing for such films, she did provide spaceship sound effects for a film called Love Probe from a Warm Planet. In 2008, she appeared in the show Gimme My Reality Show in hopes of getting her own show and used the platform to talk about animal rescue and has served on the board of directors for the nonprofit organization Precious Paws.
Of course, Olsen did not completely shy away from her time on The Brady Bunch. She reunited with her Brady siblings in 2019 for the television series A Very Brady Renovation and appeared with some of her former co-stars in the Lifetime Christmas movie Blending Christmas in 2021. Now tell us, who is your favorite Brady sibling?